About Writers, book sales

Study Finds Number of Writers May Soon Exceed Readers

Industry insiders report that the number of downloads from amateur authors now exceeds the number of consumers who are actually interested in reading them.

“Readership has been declining for decades, of course,” said an industry insider who wished to remain anonymous. “What with television and the internet and the proliferation of flash mobs, there are simply too many readily available forms of entertainment out there. Plus, they’re all so much easier than reading. Let’s face it, reading requires a lot more effort than just staring at something.”

Though the trend toward shorter, easier entertainment has been developing for a long time, it is an entirely different trend that now threatens to overwhelm the American book reader: the growth of self publishing. Ever since the advent of ebooks and self-publishing services such as Kindle Direct Press and Smashwords, the number of books being published has ballooned. In 2015, the number of self-published ebooks was anywhere from 600,000 to 8.2 million depending on whose sources you believe. When pressed for an exact number, a representative at Amazon told us, “It’s hard to know for sure. By the time we finish counting, the number’s already obsolete. We can’t keep a handle on it.”

“Writers are usually readers,” our anonymous source added, “and there’s part of your problem. A lot of those folks who would formerly have been reading are now working on their seven-part epic fantasy series or writing Kidnapped by One Direction fan fiction. It’s a real quandary. It’s like with photography, or being a singer-songwriter. Way more people want to produce their own albums than will ever want to buy them.”

Indeed the tsunami of new fiction may well be unstemmable. “In many cases, authors aren’t even asking for money anymore,” according to our anonymous source. “They’re giving the books away for free, just begging people to take them.”

Unfortunately for would-be authors, free may no longer be a sufficient discount.

“Good lord!” one reaimg_5974der told us, “My kindle is stuffed with free books! If I started now, I couldn’t read them all. But there are so many more out there! Everyday, my email gets more mailers with more free stuff, and it’s kind of hard to resist. It’s so frustrating!” She added, shaking her head, “Besides, I’m already hours behind in my Netflix binge-watching. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”


5 thoughts on “Study Finds Number of Writers May Soon Exceed Readers

  1. Perry Palin says:

    Observations: 1) If we want to sell books, and the novel doesn’t have an audience, we should look for what does have an audience, and do that. A couple of years ago I attended a poetry reading/book release at the local library. The poet, the librarian and I were the only ones in the room. The poet remarked that no one was reading poetry anymore and I said that was not true. No one was reading the couplets he was writing anymore, but Neil Simon and later, MTV videos and rap had moved poetry to a different place. 2) Re the “singer-songwriter,” one of our grown children has a responsible professional day job, and in his spare time he is a musician, preferring to play the acoustic bass with groups playing rock, blues, or jazz. He knows he’d never make a living at it, but he earns more in a couple of hours in a bar than I’ll make in a month with my stories. There are a lot of singer-songwriters trying to sell their music. Some are doing a better job than we are of marketing their wares. 3) “There just aren’t enough hours in a day!” Very true. I’m a reader, but I can’t be reading all the time. What marketing tools does a writer have to get his/her books on my short reading list? I like to connect in person with the writer. My wife will attend two readings this month by writers she doesn’t know, but I bet she buys some books.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    I don’t believe the novel is in serious decline. The problem is the volume of competition. How do you get noticed? I have suggestions, some you’ve heard, some have just come to me. You’ll find them in my next post: What’s Your Plan?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD Deckard says:

    WOOT! Wonderful satire, Atthys!!

    (I am not worried about writers outnumbering readers. Fewer readers now than in recent decades, yes, that seems obvious. But the number of people who read will always outnumber those who write. I don’t know how many readers there were in past centuries but I’m sure more people today read books for pleasure than ever before. As for people who load their ereader with free books, simply put, they are not a market.)

    Thinking about this post still makes me chuckle. [Free is not a sufficient discount? 🙂 ] Thanks! We need more posts that make us laugh at our worries!

    Liked by 3 people

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